Vegans take on Westminster

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Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer Amanda Baker blogs on The Vegan Society’s progress in raising vegan issues in the run-up to the UK General Election, and how you can help – wherever you are in the world.

“Fantastic.”; “Really useful.”; “Very interesting.”; “I’m going to try it!”.

This is just some of the great feedback you’re giving us on our General Election Vegan Tip Sheet 2015.  

Amazingly, over 750 of you have already scanned through the tip sheet on our website. And not all of you are UK-based either; our tip sheet includes such useful information as a vegan questionnaire to put to candidates, with advice that spans states.

I’m also inspired to see that many of you are already getting results. Throughout the UK - from Penrith and The Borders, to North East Somerset – we vegans are challenging our Parliamentary Candidates with questions such as, “Which key policies does your party have to reduce the use of non-human animals for human purposes?”

“It’s good to know that you can really talk to politicians.  In fact, it can be a surprisingly good feeling when one of your candidates takes the time to respond – especially if they reply in detail.  Your opinions may well differ, and that’s fine.  If you can start up an email conversation with a candidate, that can be particularly rewarding.  Talking face-to-face means thinking on your feet. With email, you are more likely to have the opportunity to get advice and think over your next comments and questions.” – Sally, Penrith

“I used the tip sheet from The Vegan Society as a starting point for my questions. I'm pleased with some of [the candidate’s] responses although [they are] not clear on the matters relating to diet and public health. I am a relatively new vegan so it was very interesting to think about how I will use my vote this time to reflect vegan issues.” – L, Leeds

For me, it comes down to shared values. We all teach children in our care not to harm animals un-necessarily.   Experts, such as registered dietitians, agree that well-planned vegan diets can support healthy living at every age and life-stage. So for those of us with fair access to society, there is no need to use animals for food nor for any other purpose. And where there’s no need, and a fair choice, then using animals is out of harmony with our deeply held and shared values. The positive solution is veganism.

I think my colleagues have noticed how enthusiastic I am to bring these shared values into the General Election. For me, politics is about actively contributing to our communities all year round. What better to share than how fun, healthy, and inclusive vegan living can be? And for all its flaws, election season is a useful opportunity to start some new conversations about vegan solutions. 

I’ve also had the privilege of working alongside a talented team of volunteers this Election. The team includes volunteers Laura and Sally, who wrote and ‘play-tested’ the tips we’ve included. I knew that, paradoxically, I wasn’t the best person to give advice on how to start - simply because as Policy Officer I get lots of practice talking to policy-makers, day in and day out. 

Thank you too to each of you who came along to the Brighton VegfestUK Election Conference, where we ran two workshops on talking to politicians.  

“Workshops like this should happen more, to help more people feel that they can speak to politicians.” - Workshop participant

“Really interesting how the politicians replied in different ways, a good opportunity to be able to ask questions.” – Conference attendee

If you’re a vegan and eligible to vote in the UK General Election, challenge your prospective MPs to take action for animals, non-human and human, and our planet. Thank you for letting me help you to take action wherever you are based. 

By Amanda Baker, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at The Vegan Society

Amanda Baker hosts a workshop on how to talk to politicians at VegFest


I am happy to know that as vegans, we are making progress by being mainstream, taking charge of our right to choose by making informed decisions on who to put in office that would support our cause & advocacies. This is such a breakthrough that I am looking forward to a very bright & positive future!

The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.

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